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Are Farm-to-School Programs More Common in States with Farm-to-School-Related Laws?

Schneider L, Chriqui JF, Nicholson L, Turner L, Gourdet C, and Chaloupka FJ. Journal of School Health, 82(5): 210-216, May 2012.

Background: Farm-to-School programs (FTSPs) connect schools with locally grown food. This article examines whether FTSPs are more common in public elementary schools (ESs) in states with a formal, FTSP law or with a related, locally grown procurement law. 

Methods: A pooled, cross-sectional analysis linked nationally representative samples of 1872 public ESs (across 47 states) for the 2006-2007, 2007-2008, and 2008-2009 school years with state laws effective as of the beginning of September of each year that were collected and analyzed for all states. Multivariate logistic regression models examined the impact of state law on school FTSP participation, controlling for year and school-level race/ethnicity, region, locale, free-reduced lunch participation, and school size.

Results: The percentage of schools located in a state with a FTSP-specific law increased from 7.3% to 20.4% over the 3-year period, while the percentage of schools located in a state with a locally grown procurement law was approximately 30% across all years. The percentage of schools with FTSPs has more than tripled over the last 3 years (from 4.9% to 17.7%). After adjusting for all covariates except year, FTSPs were significantly more likely in states with a FTSP-specific law (OR = 2.45, 95% CI = 1.28-4.67); once adjusting for year, the results were marginally significant (OR = 1.72, 95% CI = .91-3.25). School-level FTSPs were not related to state locally grown procurement laws. 

Conclusion: Although the percentage of schools with FTSPs is relatively small, these programs are becoming more common, particularly in states with FTSP-specific laws.

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